BRASILIA – Brazilian President Michel Temer replaced Justice Minister Osmar Serraglio on Sunday with Transparency Minister Torquato Jardim amid a political crisis that threatens to force him from office.
The change was confirmed to EFE by officials with the President’s Office, who did not specify if Serraglio will be handed a new post or will leave the government altogether.
Serraglio, an attorney with almost two decades of service in parliamentary life affiliated with the PMDB party, which Temer heads, was tapped as justice minister by the president in February.
The officials did not say what prompted the change, but the daily O Globo reported that it was due to the fact that Serraglio “is in the sights of the investigations” into the meat scandal that erupted in March when it became public knowledge that a group of meat producers was bribing health officials so that they could sell adulterated products or ones that were past their expiration dates.
As justice minister, Jardim will have the Federal Police under his authority, and that force, along with the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court, is in the forefront of the anti-corruption investigations.
The staffing change comes amid the worst crisis yet for the Temer government since he came into office in May 2016, a crisis that has exploded due to the testimony provided to the Justice Ministry by several executives from the JBS group directly implicating the president in a serious corruption scandal.
The execs accused Temer of taking bribes since 2010, providing an explosive recording in which the president either listens in silence or consents to potential crimes.
On that basis, the Supreme Court opened an investigation of Temer for passive corruption, obstruction of justice and criminal association.